This world is so beautiful, but there are many things wrong with it, and there are many things that keep us feeling down and anxious. The system we are living in is predicated on violence toward the environment, others, and ourselves, which is not conducive to a beautiful world and happy communities.
I don’t like that this system requires poverty, animal cruelty, and greed. I don’t like that we have racism, classism, and war, or that in this system we feel alienated, fearful, depressed, and in constant search of something we can’t describe, which is always out of reach.
But I know that together we can make a difference, because we hold the power. We drive demand, we are the people who are consuming, and who can choose to live the decisions of corporations, governments, and outdated social standards.
There’s something I like to call the power of the default. There is a default setting for our choices, and for our lives. Default choices are the easiest options to pursue in terms of availability, convenience, and social acceptance. They are easy foods, like McDonalds or quick supermarket meals that are at eye level, and they are easy places to expend boredom, like scrolling Facebook and watching popular television. Default lives are entire lifestyles and life paths that are expected and accepted. They usually follow this path: education in a field that fits the economy, hard work, leisure spent watching television and travelling to popular tourist spots, a sense of control through voting left or right, finding a partner, having children, and repeat.
I know there is more to life than this. I know that we’re ignoring the real issues and complying to a life that we’re not happy with. It is difficult to resist the default. People bond over the extent that they fit into the default, and congratulate each other on it. It takes active work to resist the default, as well as questioning and criticism from peers who require similarity to bond over. But as more of us decide to make conscious choices and resist the default, the better the world can become.
The issues of the world cannot be addressed through government policy alone. The structure of this system reaches into every corner of our lives, and is the very framework of how we understand the world. Sociologist Georg Simmel wrote that the great problem facing society is that the individual has to fit herself into a whole system, and live for it (1910). While many can agree that corporate power is undesirable, our deeper values which maintain capitalism remain hidden and untouched. These are values around the worth of ourselves and others, and values about what is good and bad. What we need to do is unpick all of our underlying, deep values, and re-evaluate our world.
We understand ourselves, and the world around us, according to categories and narratives that are dominant in our culture. These categories and narratives are the fundamental source of power which are keeping the world the way it is. This categorisation is not for our benefit – it suppresses us, it keeps us assimilated, easy to control, unaware, but most of all, unhappy. Social theorist Michel Foucault argues that discourses and ‘truths’ are produced in order to support and advantage a particular social group (1980). It is important to have these filters exposed – to question everything, and then to re-evaluate its purpose and function.
In this blog, I aim to take one subject at a time and analyse and attempt to expose it, releasing our filters, understanding how the topic fits within the structure of power, and finally address the real issues so that we can move outside of, and beyond this system. Some topics I want to discuss include the mass media, the environment, food, medicine, charity, education, government, love, and relationships. Re-evaluating is the first step toward getting our power back so that we can make conscious choices, and change the world.